Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Am in the middle of reviewing the final manuscript for STAGE PRESENCE edited by Theo Gonsalvez. It's ground-breaking. I can't wait to release it. Theo and I must have been going back and forth on it for about [five] years? STAGE PRESENCE, along with PINOY POETICS, is why I founded Meritage Press. Yes, I've done many other projects since but these two books were the impetus for my becoming a publisher. The artists in STAGE PRESENCE (the link has to be updated) are

1. Eleanor Academia (music)
2. Jessica Hagedorn (music)
3. Joel Jacinto (dance)
4. Danny Kalanduyan (music)
5. Allan Manalo (theater)
6. Alleluia Panis (dance)
7. Reme Grefalda(theater)
8. Pearl Ubungen (dance)
9. Gabe Baltazar, Jr. (music)
10. Ralph Pena (theater)

It'll be interesting to feature Jessica Hagedorn as, not a poet but as, a bandleader.

A brilliant foreword by Ricardo D. Trimillos.

If you don't know these names, you will want to know them. Here's an excerpt below from the essay by Pearl Ubungen, the first movement artist with whom I did a collaboration with a poem providing the "music" to Pearl's dance. I was honored to work with Pearl as I empathize with how she incorporates cultural activism into her work, as in the brilliant community-involved Tagulaylay):

Dance training has the potential to be very powerful because the deep somatic practices are placed in a performance context. Internal to the body are traces of lineage and ancestral memory that can be drawn into the creative process of making and performing work. This is significant at a time when the body has been so stripped of embodiment and the influences of very aggressive technology and mass media pervert notions of how we "think" about the body. I am really talking about two intertwined strands--which I referred to as the subtle/subversive body earlier. Somatic practice in itself doesn't address the contextual -- but can be a pathway to deepening those traces. For example: These days more of our time is spent in relationship to computers. Rather than a face-to-face conversation, we have text messages or even computer-based viewing that allows us to "see" the other person. This cannot be equated with the kind of embodiment that occurs when we are in each other's physical presnce -- face-to-face/body-to-body. Furthermore, the body becomes more constricted; less full of its organic presence when technology drives its daily activities. In terms of a radical artistic approach to the legacies of colonialism, racism, classism, etc., it is my belief that that the body needs to come more into itself and serve as the essential ground for making work. For me this means more stillness, contemplation and a simplification of one's daily activities. This is what I've come to learn through meditation practice and study. Another aspect of the culture that we are challenged with is the body being hyper-involved in body-based activities but from a materialistic/entertainment-based attitude. In other words, the urban physical body culture now tells everyone "yoga booty ballet" is what we need to have a great bod. This distorts how we relate to the body as a source of home or wisdom from which we can source intelligence and creativity.

So, please to anticipate the Meritage Press release of STAGE PRESENCE! The performers are philosophers in their own right, but despite such and the complexity of the discussed contexts, the artists' words are deliberately accessible viz kuwentuhans (conversations). Because this poet believes in this instance: Words should not create distance, but offer bridges.

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